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Archive for the ‘drugs’ Category

Government crackdown on autism ‘therapies’

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune, ABC News, Washington Post

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned eight companies to stop marketing unproven over-the-counter chelation”therapies” as treatments for autism, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. The products’ distributors have claimed they cure a range of diseases by removing heavy metals from the body.

“These products are dangerously misleading because they are targeted to patients with serious conditions and limited treatment options,” said Deborah Autor, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA must take a firm stand against companies who prey on the vulnerability of patients seeking hope and relief.”

A series of articles in the Chicago Tribune found widespread evidence that parents of children with autism were using chelation on their children, even though it has not been found to be safe and effective.

Probe: Many ‘treatments’ for autism are risky, unproven

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

So-called ‘therapies’ amount to uncontrolled experimentation on children, experts say

Thousands of American children with autism are being subjected to “therapies” that are costly, unproven and may cause harm, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune has concluded.

Physicians are trading on hope to promote vitamins, intraveneous injections and even pressurized oxygen chambers to parents, saying they can “recover” children with autism. Yet science has not yet identified a cause or cure for the disorder.

The Tribune investigation found that laboratory tests used to justify the “therapies” are often misleading and misinterpreted, and said clinical trials have not found them to be effective.

Experts urged parents to exercise caution and demand to see documentation of beneficial results before agreeing to participate. An excerpt:

“They really should be seeing treatment of patients with unproven therapies as dangerous experimentation,” said pediatrician Dr. Steven Goodman, a clinical trial expert at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. “The problem with uncontrolled experiments … is that it is experimentation from which we can learn nothing.”

Related stories from the Chicago Tribune:

Leon Eisenberg, autism expert and advocate

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Leon Eisenberg, Harvard photo in New York TimesFrom the New York Times, Harvard Crimson:

Dr. Leon Eisenberg, a pioneer in researching autism and other developmental and learning disabilities, has died of cancer at the age of 87.

Eisenberg was among the first to study possible drug treatments for attention deficit disorders, and to demonstrate that language problems could predict the severity of autism in children.

Dr. James Harris, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins University, said that Dr. Eisenberg was “the pivotal person in 20th-century child psychiatry who moved the field from simple descriptions of childhood disorders to actually looking at the science behind both the diagnosis and treatment.”

… In his later years, Dr. Eisenberg became increasingly alarmed at trends in the field he helped establish, criticizing what he saw as a cozy relationships between drug makers and doctors and the expanding popularity of the attention deficit diagnosis.

(Harvard photo in the New York Times)

Study: Possible link between deaths, ADHD drugs

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

From the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Wall Street Journal:

Children taking stimulant drugs such as Ritalin to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are several times as likely to suffer sudden, unexplained death as children who are not taking such drugs, according to a study published yesterday that was funded by the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Mental Health.

… In a press briefing called on short notice yesterday, FDA officials said that given the seriousness of ADHD and the rarity of sudden death — which strikes fewer than 1 in 10,000 children — the benefits of the drugs outweigh their risks. Agency officials urged parents to discuss concerns with doctors rather than deciding on their own to discontinue a child’s medication.

Study: Popular ‘treatment’ no help to kids with autism

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Drug is known as Celexa in the U.S.

From the Los Angeles Times:

An antidepressant commonly prescribed to help autistic children control their repetitive behaviors is actually no better than a placebo, according to a report published today.

Roughly a third of all children diagnosed with autism in the U.S. now take citalopram, the antidepressant examined in the study, or others that are closely related. The results of the nationwide trial, published in Archives of General Psychiatry, have some experts reconsidering the appropriateness of antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs used to treat children with autism spectrum disorders.

… Dr. Bryan King, director of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and leader of the study, said he was shocked to find that citalopram didn’t help patients. Not only was the placebo slightly more effective, but the drug’s side effects — such as impulsivity and insomnia — were at least twice as bad, the study found.

Horrific institutions in Serbia warehouse people with intellectual disabilities

Monday, September 1st, 2008

With no hope for recovery, death is the only way out

Ann Curry, on Dateline NBC, takes a film crew into Serbian institutions that look much the way institutions did in the U.S. a generation ago.

People with intellectual disabilities are shunned and warehoused, imprisoned without supervision under filthy conditions behind crumbling walls and rusted bars. They are given no treatment and meager care that may include being drugged or tied up day after day to control the anxiety and aggression that comes of being locked away. One man has been imprisoned in a crib for all of his 21 years. Among those shown are people with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other conditions.

Disability is a source of deep shame in Serbia, and parents are urged to put children with intellectual disabilities away in remote government institutions or risk financial ruin. Some surrender their children without ever glimpsing their faces.

Rasim Ljajic, a government official in charge of the institutions, acknowledged that the conditions are inhumane, but said the government does not have resources to fix the situation.

Said Laurie Ahern, associate director of Mental Disability Rights International:

The idea of being locked away and the idea that somehow these people, that their lives aren’t valuable, that they are less than human, because they were born with a disability. It’s horrendous.  And it’s awful. And it shouldn’t happen.

The video is here.

See earlier post here.

See also:

Reporter’s notebook, by Tim Sandler, NBC News producer

Shunned: Photos from inside Serbia’s mental institutions

Health of childhood cancer survivors still at risk

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

About two-thirds of pediatric cancer survivors experience at least one late health effect of treatment, and for more than one-quarter of survivors it is severe or life-threatening.

From the Los Angeles Times, an extended feature about young adults who have survived childhood cancer only to find that their health is now threatened by the very treatments that once saved their lives

Cancer therapies injure, starve or kill healthy cells along with malignant ones, and as a consequence, survivors have a heightened risk of health problems, including early heart attacks, second cancers, stunted growth and infertility.

… The developing brain — and psyche — can be affected as well. Radiation to the brain can result in a drop of 20 or more IQ points, causing learning disabilities for some. And while some cured youngsters enter adulthood feeling a renewed sense of purpose, others must deal with lingering bitterness and trauma from their treatment, which can emerge as depression or anxiety when they become adults.

… Only recently is the medical community understanding the importance of lifelong health monitoring to help them avoid, or detect early, the host of medical risks that could lie in their path.

Related links:

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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